Bad Ideas about Christians and Politics - Part 3 2

The following is the third of a four part series. Read part 1 and part 2.

Here is the intro to the series, Bad Ideas about Christians and Politics, from post 1:

I’m a Christian who works in politics. Usually I say – when asked – that I work in “public policy,” and I explain that public policy is the “beautiful cousin” of politics.

Among Christians, there seem to be a number of bad ideas about engaging in politics. Sometimes I even buy into these bad ideas myself. That’s probably what’s behind the vagueness and qualifiers that I offer while explaining my work.

Below are some of the bad ideas about faith and politics that I wanted to dispel:

3. Christians should keep their faith and politics separate.

This is a favorite misperception, especially among people who claim to be nonreligious! “Separation of Church and State!” they proclaim whenever it seems that any legislation, political argument, or opinion is influenced by faith.

Note that I said “people who claim to be nonreligious.” In some sense, it could be argued that everyone has a religion. Everyone has ideas about the universe, God, themselves, other people, right and wrong, morals, ethics, values, etc. Often today when people invoke “Separation of Church of State!!!” they only mean to quarantine and discount the views of many people who participate in organized religious faiths.

That was not the original intent of the founding fathers when the phrase first came into existence. In fact, the phrase is not mentioned anywhere in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. Instead, the First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

Some Christians believe that, because we live in a pluralistic society, we should not “impose our values” on other people. But the reality is this: Some values will rule the day. Some values will influence our culture and our laws. Our Christian values should at least be a part of the public discourse. Do we, as Christians, doubt that the moral lessons of the Bible aren’t good for everyone?

Of course our faith should inform our politics. This does not mean that all Christians will come to the same conclusions about every political issue. This also does not mean that, for many hotly-debated political issues, our only arguments are based on our faith. Christians, especially those of us who work in politics, should be encouraged to study and make arguments about our point of view that don’t require nonbelievers to share our religious background.